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FAQ for Accused Students
I have received a letter from SCO. What does it mean?
The letter that you have received states that you have allegedly violated one or more of Texas A&M University’s Student Rules. It states which rule may have been violated and a brief description of how the rule may have been violated. The letter also indicates the time, date, and location of your student conduct conference. It is imperative that you attend your student conduct conference.
The letter also states that you can contact the SCO to set up a student conduct conference information session with a staff member to discuss the SCO process and student conduct conference.
Also included is a bookmark that lists your rights as a student who is involved with the SCO process.
What is a student conduct conference information session?
The SCO staff encourages a student conduct conference information session. This meeting will give you an opportunity to review your conduct file, meet with a staff member to discuss your rights, to talk about the student conduct conference process, to discuss the range of sanctions that may be imposed, and to have your questions answered. This meeting is mandatory for students who are facing sanctions that could separate them from school (expulsion or suspension).
What are my rights at SCO?
A list of your rights is included within the Texas A&M University Student Rules.
Where did you get the information that you charged me with?
Student Conduct Office receives reports from Residence Life, the Corps of Cadets, Athletics, the University Police Department, and the community at large. To view the specific report(s) used in your case, please make arrangements to come to our office between 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday - Friday to view your your file. No appointment is necessary to view your file. The SCO Office is located in Room C-315 of Cain Hall.
What will happen during my student conduct conference?
The student conduct conference is a time for you to tell your side of the story. In order for the student conduct officers to make the best decision possible, they need a full picture of what happened. This is your time to officially respond to the charges and the evidence in your case file.
When you arrive for your student conduct conference, you will have the opportunity to review your conduct file if you have not viewed it prior to the student conduct conference. If you did not have a student conduct conference information session, the staff member(s) who are adjudicating your case will meet with you to review the charge(s) against you, briefly review your rights, the range of sanctions that could be imposed, and to answer any questions that you may have.
You will then have an opportunity to explain your perspective on the incident that has been documented. You will have a chance to explain what you agree with, what you disagree with, and to explain your involvement with the documented incident. The student conduct officer(s) will then have some questions for you about the incident documented.
You will also have the opportunity to present any witnesses or additional supporting information that you have pertaining to the incident. (See witness FAQ for additional information).
You may accept responsibility or not accept responsibility for the charges that have been assigned to your incident. If you choose to not accept responsibility, you may be found responsible by the student conduct officer(s) for the student rule(s) violation.
If you accept responsibility or are found responsible for the charges assigned to you, then you will be issued an appropriate sanction(s) based on your involvement.
Your student conduct officer(s) will then conclude the student conduct conference by explaining that you will receive a follow up letter from the SCO office reviewing your incident, the finding(s) of the student conduct conference, your sanction(s) (if any), and the appeals process.
The student conduct officer(s) will then answer any last questions that you may have before concluding the student conduct conference.
How do you decide if I violated one of the Student Rules?
Texas A&M University uses a standard of evidence called Preponderance of Information to determine if a violation of the Student Rules has occurred.
Preponderance of Information means more likely then not. This is a different, and less strict, standard of evidence, than is used in the criminal court system. Our student conduct conferences at Texas A&M University are not criminal proceedings, nor do they follow the same guidelines as a criminal proceeding.
Another way to think about Preponderance of Information is to ask yourself the questions: Is it more than 50% likely that a Student Rule violation occurred?
If I did violate one or more of the Student Rules, how will I be punished?
There are several factors that are taken into consideration by the student conduct officer(s) when deterring what an appropriate sanction(s) for a student is. The student conduct officer(s) will examine the following:
- The nature of the violation
- Previous conduct history
- Aggravating or mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation
- Your motivation for the behavior
- The developmental and educational impact of the sanction
Please refer to the Student Rules, Section 27 for a complete list of sanctions that may be imposed for a violation of the Student Rules.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
In some instances, students are separated from the university. These sanctions are suspension, dismissal, and expulsion. Examples of behaviors that may warrant separation are sexual misconduct, physical abuse, hazing, harassment, drug use and sales, repeat offenders, and weapons. The charge letter you received from SCO outlines what range of sanctions is possible for the charges you have pending.
If I’ve had previous discipline, is this going to make it worse for me?
Your previous disciplinary record is not considered in determining whether or not you have violated a student rule. Previous discipline is only considered once you have been found responsible or accept responsibility for a rule violation. You may receive a harsher sanction if you have had previous disciplinary case.
Can I have someone with me during my student conduct conference?
Students are permitted to have one advisor present with them during their student conduct conference. Students that are charged in the same incident or who are "not in good standing" with the University may not serve as an advisor for the accused student. Additionally, the advisor may not be an attorney unless the accused student is also the subject of a pending criminal matter arising out of the same circumstances. Aside from those two exception, the advisor may be anyone of the student's choosing (friend, faculty member, parent, clergy, etc.). However, this advisor is not permitted to represent or speak for the student during the student conduct conference. They may provide advice to the student, but under no circumstances will they be permitted to speak for the student during the student conduct conference.
Students are also required to sign a privacy release form that permits another individual to be present during their student conduct conference.
Can I bring witnesses?
Students are permitted to present witnesses during their student conduct conference. Your conduct officer(s) will allow you to do this during your student conduct conference. You may ask your witnesses to either make a statement on your behalf or to answer questions that you ask them about your incident. Your student conduct officer(s) may then ask your witnesses questions based on the statements that they make during your conduct conference. We ask that you present character witnesses in writing.
You will be required to complete a privacy release form that permits another individual to be present during your student conduct conference prior to being able to present witnesses.
Your witnesses will also be required to complete a Witness Participation form prior to being called into the student conduct conference. All forms will be available in our office.
Who will know about the incident that I have been involved with?
As a student you are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. You may discuss your case with anyone. The university is restricted to discussing the case with you, those you designate that we can communicate with, and those with an educational need to know.
You may choose to sign a waiver that will release your student conduct file to those of your choosing. This is done by completing a FERPA form and is done when you wish to have an advisor or witness present during your student conduct conference or when you wish to have someone contact the SCO office to discuss your case.
Should I just lie my way through this?
As a student at Texas A&M University you are expected to adhere to the Aggie Code of Honor. Lying rarely makes a situation better. If you choose to lie to a university official, you risk being charged with Texas A&M University Student Rule 24.3.14 Furnishing false information.
I know others that have done the same thing I did, but they didn’t get caught. What about them?
The focus of your student conduct conference is YOU and YOUR behavior. Remember the old saying, "If everyone jumps off a bridge, would you?"
What if I do not agree with the outcome of my student conduct conference?
You can appeal our decisions on three factors: inappropriate finding, unjust sanction, and due process. The appeals process information will be shared with you during your student conduct conference information session and student conduct conference.
What happens during the appeal?
An appeal conference gives the student another opportunity to explain their involvement in an incident. A student may file an appeal based on one (or more) of these three factors:
- Appeal based on severity of the sanction assigned
- Appeal based on violation of rights
- Appeal based on the enterance of new information
During an appeal conference, the burden of proof will be on the student to explain why the decision reached during the original student conduct conference was not an appropriate one. Both the student and the original student conduct officer(s) will have an opportunity to present their information and to answer questions from the appeal’s panel.
At the conclusion of the conference, the panel will deliberate and may either uphold the original findings or sanctions, or the panel may modify the findings or sanctions. A student’s sanction will not be increased during an appeal conference.
What happens if I have a pending Student Conduct Office student conduct conference and a pending criminal citation in the Bryan or College Station criminal court system?
You will need to resolve both issues separately. Students have a separate relationship to the University that is different from their responsibilities as citizens. The student conduct conference at the SCO office will only resolve conflicts with the Student Rules. For more information on various legal proceedings, please visit our Student Legal Services area.
What if I don’t show up or respond to the letter?
A decision may be made in your absence based on the contents of your disciplinary file. You may also be charged with a violation of TAMU Student Rule 24.4.22 Abuse of student conduct process. Typically, we will place a Hold on your registration and mandate that you attend your student conduct conference before you will be allowed to register for future semesters.
What do I do if I have class during the time my student conduct conference is scheduled?
Student Conduct Office will provide an official university excuse for any class absences. We do our best to avoid scheduling student conduct conferences during class times; however, at times it becomes necessary. If you are missing a test, please contact our office as soon as possible to inquire about the possibility of rescheduling the student conduct conference.
Who can I contact if I have more questions?
Please contact SCO at 979.847.7272 or in person at Cain Hall, Room C-315. You may also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.